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Settlement: 'Time Warp' Edgewater Hotel Gives Fired Female Worker $35,000

Hilton Homewood Suites, Edgewater.
Hilton Homewood Suites, Edgewater. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Hilton Homewood Suites

EDGEWATER, N.J. -- An Edgewater hotel has agreed to pay an ex-employee $35,000 to resolve charges that it paid men more for the same work -- including her own son -- then fired her after she complained about it.

In addition to the payout to Rosa E. Lopez, Homewood Suites must submit to state monitoring of its hiring, salary-setting and related complaint-handling processes for a period of two years, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said Tuesday.

A $10,000 civil penalty was suspended, Porrino said, adding that it would be reinstated if the hotel violates New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD) or fails to comply with the settlement.

The hotel also "must undertake a variety of internal reforms, including appointment of a payroll auditor to review payroll records and ensure there are no wage discrepancies among male and female workers who did, or presently do, similar work," the attorney general said.Among other tasks, the auditor must identify any pay discrepancies and suggest how to resolve them, he said.

Three other hotels -- Homewood Suites by Hilton in East Rutherford, the Holiday Express in Carlstadt and the Hilton Garden Inn in Bridgewater -- voluntarily adopted similar measures, Porrino noted.

These include revising procedures for handling wage-related complaints by workers and providing anti-wage-discrimination training for employees involved in setting salaries.

“This settlement resolves some very troubling allegations, and should serve to remind employers across New Jersey that disparate pay for the same work based on gender -- or any type of ‘other-ness’ for that matter -- will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Porrino.

"We live in the 21st Century," he added. "Equal pay for equal work is not just some feel-good platitude. The notion of any employer -- let alone one that is part of a national hotel chain – paying women less than men for the identical work is appalling, and could not be allowed to stand.”

Porrino's office and the state Division on Civil Rights filed the complaint in February in Hackensack, accusing Rockaway Hotel LLC -- trading as Homewood Suites by Hilton -- of one count of gender discrimination and two counts of engaging in unlawful reprisal against a worker engaged in protected activity.

The complaint alleged that Homewood Suites hired employee Lopez in August 2011 to work in its housekeeping department at a starting wage of $8 per hour.

It later hired six male employees – including Lopez’s son -- to do the same housekeeping work at a starting wage of $9-$10 per hour, the complaint said.

At the time several of the men were hired, Lopez continued to earn $8 per hour, it said.

A year into the job, she received a 20-cent raise. Continue reading....

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